It started out with exhaustion. Did I forget to take my medicine this morning? I couldn’t remember. Something wasn’t right as I just wasn’t feeling myself. By 11am, we arrived at my Mom’s house with kids in tow. My stomach was turning and I started to sweat. Oh no! Am I getting sick? I made a quick dash for the bathroom. Thank God, nothing came up. I shared the news while family members reached for the hand sanitizer. I would soon be lying down on my home’s bathroom floor, waiting for the next return of undigested food. It was Christmas day and I had the stomach bug. Nooooo!!!!
I’ll admit that being sick was one of the biggest disappointments of 2016. Sometimes that’s just how life goes. You have great expectations for something and it just doesn’t work exactly the way you want it to. Being so sick on Christmas day really got me thinking about disappointments and set-backs. One thing is for sure. We all have had our fair share of disappointments. Whether it’s throwing up on Christmas day or a setback in your business, we all can relate to adversity. After thinking about it, I decided to share a few principles to help with the struggles we all face.
I hate to even say it, but it’s true. Sometimes our expectations are so high, we’re doomed to be discouraged. I am an optimist by nature. I often find myself planning things out in my head rather than on paper. You see, I had an amazing Christmas day planned out in my head. In my mind, Christmas could only be magical. So when you’re alone on Christmas day bowing down to the porcelain throne, there’s nothing to feel but discouragement. When discouragement sets in, we feel like giving up.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen this with a few of my marketing students. Their gung-ho about the business and ready to rock. As they go through training, they plan in their minds exactly what they will do to reach success. The problem is there is NO margin for error in their plan. Their plan expects everything to go perfectly. Unfortunately, there’s going to be bumps in the road with any new business that you start. Sometimes the thing going wrong has nothing to do with the business itself. It’s just life and all the trials that come with it! It could be health issues, family sickness, or even marriage issues. However, when things don’t go perfectly, discouragement sets in and people feel like giving up.
In the next eight months, we’ll be releasing some pretty huge things for our business. Some of these things are so big and cutting edge, that very few people even know what we’re planning. While I’m pumped about it and have a plan in place, I know it won’t be easy. I know there will be setbacks and disappointments. I know it will take longer than I expect. Having this realistic view might seem like I’m being a bit negative, but in reality, I’m protecting my heart and ensuring I never give up.
Learning Lessons as You Go
Life is full of lessons if we’re willing to learn from them. When Sarah and I went through bankruptcy and foreclosure, we learned a BIG lesson about carrying a huge debt load. When I launched my marketing business, I learned a huge lesson about website security after many of our new clients’ websites were hacked. I also learned a lesson in how to deal with business owners after I lost a $90K deal by sending a snarky email. I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point. Lessons are learned through experiences. Sometimes these experiences are painful lessons.
I see this in business too. Nobody is born good at business. All of us at one time had to be fed by our mothers and pooped in our diapers. The truth is that success is always a result of learning. The entire journey of being a business owner is a series of lessons that we learn. Some lessons are learned through instruction and classes. We do this for our students to help them get further along faster. But that’s only part of the journey. Other lessons come from on the job training and fleshing out what we learn.
Yes, I know a lot about marketing, but it didn’t come to me overnight. I’m still learning and growing. Sometimes I see some of my new students compare themselves to the more experienced consultants. They don’t realize that that seemingly experienced consultant, started out just like they did. For example, on Wednesday’s help desk, Joyce Weaver from SJ Weaver Marketing Consultants was on the call with one of her client’s real estate website. While the site isn’t totally finished yet, I was blown away by Joyce’s knowledge and work. Joyce started out just like all of us. She didn’t know what she was doing. Through continual learning they’ve turned into knowledgable marketers. In fact, if I had a real estate website project, I’d be the one going to Joyce for help. Obviously, Joyce and Scott had lots of setbacks on the journey. I clearly remember their first web project. While it wasn’t easy, the lessons from that project prepared them for this one.
Focus on the Positive
Lastly, focus on the good things in life. While I was frequenting the bathroom on Christmas day, I decided to look for the positives. It wasn’t easy, but slowly my attitude began to change. I noticed that Sarah had cleaned the toilet on Christmas Eve. Nobody likes kneeling down over a toilet, but at least this baby was sparkling. Secondly, I reasoned that if I had a stomach bug, I should be better by the 28th, which was my 14th anniversary. I used the time between hurling my guts out to plan a very romantic dinner for my wife and I. Lastly, I started thanking God that I had an amazing Christmas Eve with my girls and family before the bug locked in on me.
Unfortunately, this might not be one of the most encouraging posts. Worse yet, there’s a picture of my toilet. I’m happy to share it though if it will help someone be better prepared for entrepreneurship. It’s important to remember that if being an entrepreneur were easy, everyone would do it. Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. It takes bravery and a fighting spirit that is relentless. Yes, there will be adversity. If you’re wise you’ll expect it. We should plan for these challenges and learn from them. These set-backs will seem painful, but they can be beautiful lessons if you let them train you. We have to remember that our success isn’t a destination, but a journey.